The Rise And Fall Of Major Record Labels
So we’re now down to 3 major record labels. What am I talking about you ask? Well if you haven’t been paying attention let me bring you up to speed. EMI, the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels has been absorbed by Univeral Music Group. Now if you’re still unmoved by this piece of news then you fail to realize what’s been happening in the music business for the last couple of decades. Let me explain….let’s take it from the top….the tippy.
In 1988 there were 6 major record labels, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, BMG Music, EMI, Polygram and Sony Music (Which was then known as CBS records until 1991). These 6 labels were known as the “Big Six”. Basically if you wanted a major record deal, you would have go to one if the “Big Six” or a subsidiary label that was under one of the “Big Six”.
10 years later, 1998 the “Big Six” became the “Big Five” due to Polygram being absorbed by Universal Music Group.
A few years later Sony Music and BMG Music form a joint venture merging into one company known as Sony BMG. BMG was later bought out by Sony causing the BMG name to be removed leaving Sony to then reclaim their name as Sony Music Entertainment. Wow! What a move, so that left us with what the “Big Four”.
Now it’s 2012, and with Universal Music absorbing EMI leaving us a total of 3 major labels, I can’t help think the obvious…. the music business is shrinking…or is it?
We all know record sales have been down for awhile now and major record labels are feeling the brunt of it. From mergers, to label folding and layoffs to simply dropping artist the music business is being affected. But all is not lost my friend, independent companies are on the rise and have been giving the major labels so much of a run for their money they often look for these small companies acquire after they see the work they have put in the streets. Indie labels are getting things done faster and more effective then the majors with a smaller budget. Majors can’t resist in partnering with indies that’s making a buzz for their artist. For some of the indie companies they jump at an opportunity to partner with a major label while others aren’t so pressed and are comfortable without the input or backing of a major corporation.
Boy, have times have changed and it makes me wonder what’s next down the line. Will we dwindle down to 1 major label and finally none? What would the music business be if there actually was no major label? How will this affect the genre of Hip Hop? How will this affect quality of music? Will music eventually just lose its value with indie companies rewriting the rules? What’s to expect and how will it affect you and your grind? Well it’s hard to say, but one thing is for sure…change gon come and however it changes, you better be prepared because it looks like time is running out.